Graduate joins MATCH teaching corps in Boston
Tara Davidson ‘10 has entered the education world as a member of the teaching corps at Media and Technology Charter High (MATCH). The MATCH acronym has been creatively construed as “Many Amazing Teachers Charter High,” “My Approach To College Happiness,” and “Many Adults That Care Here.” These interpretations highlight the important work that Davidson is doing as a MATCH corps member.
Located on Commonwealth Ave in Boston, Media and Technology Charter High school opened in September of 2000 and serves 220 students, and MATCH opened an affiliated middle school in August of 2008. MATCH’s mission is “to reverse underachievement, so kids can fulfill their true potential,” according to their website. MATCH is a tuition-free, independent public school that receives two-thirds of its funding from the state, acquiring the rest privately. The MATCH program strives to help inner-city Boston students to reach college and to find a successful career after graduation. Because the schools have limited space, students are selected from a pool of applicants through a randomized lottery.
MATCH annually selects students from prominent colleges to work with students in MATCH schools. The corps application process is rolling from October to May. As of early March, more than 2000 applicants are vying for about 80 spots in this highly competitive program. Davidson, a math major and education minor, was selected from the 2010 applicant pool.
Davidson is currently working in the MATCH middle school with students ranging from age ten to age fourteen. She primarily works with five students: three sixth grade boys and two seventh grade girls. She spends two hours each day with these students tutoring them in math, reading, writing, social studies and English.
Davidson explained the advantages of MATCH tutoring, saying, “Spending two hours a day with these students gives me the advantage of knowing them even better than their teachers. I know what subjects they like and don't like, I know what subjects they need more support in, I know what books they like to read, I know what they like to do outside of school and I know a lot about what's going on at home.”
In addition to tutoring, MATCH corps members perform other duties within the school such as administrative work and assistant teaching. Along with the highly intensive tutoring of five students, Davidson works as an apprentice teacher in sixth grade math classes, teaching a combination of ninety students.
MATCH corps members undergo two weeks of on-site training prior to the first day of school, and continue their training throughout the year. Corps members brush up on their initial training every two weeks during half-days of professional development.
Davidson said of the support at MATCH, “You get feedback daily, are expected to implement it and you are evaluated on your improvements. As a teacher resident, I will also have support during my first two-years of teaching, which is a luxury not all rookie teachers get.”
MATCH and Teach for America (TFA), a national program also seeking to close the achievement gap in the U.S., state similar missions, but they approach their goals differently. MATCH is a one-year program focused only in the sixth through twelfth grade charter middle schools and high schools of Boston while TFA requires a two-year commitment and is closely tied to graduate school programs. TFA has 20,000 alumni and is active in 39 regions around the country. TFA corps members go through highly intensive training prior to their two-year commitment.
In November of 2007, the U.S. News and World Report ranked MATCH number 99 on the list of America’s best high schools and reported that the school held a 99% college-acceptance rate from 2004-2010.
MATCH’s success has led to expansion efforts, including the new MATCH Community Day Charter Public School. The school will open in the fall of 2011 and will serve pre-kindergarten through second-grade students, focusing on teaching English as a second language.
In order to narrow the achievement gap, Davidson works an average of 11-hour days and also works Saturdays as a teacher resident. Despite the challenges, Davidson says, “While I've worked long hours this year, I always have the support I need, and I've learned a lot as a result of it.” She credits the College’s education department for introducing her to the importance of teaching for social justice. “Now I'm doing it and I hope more students at Colby will see and experience just how important it is to change the state of our nation's urban public schools,” said Davidson.